I don’t know the answer to that question. “Knowledge management” seems to set off as many alarm bells in people as the term “change management.” Both are loaded terms, yet constitute whole bodies of work, research, methods, and theories that tie many people across industries together. What I do know is that we can extract, reuse, teach, share, and leverage knowledge. If by doing so, we are managing it, then so be it. If by doing so, we are giving knowledge a life of its own that we can’t possibly expect to control, that is fine too – so long as we are better off by tapping into the knowledge than we were before.
I recently gave two presentations that focused on how to extract knowledge – and wisdom – from people who have extensive experience. The methods I discussed come from Laura Militello and Rob Hutton’s work on Applied Cognitive Task Analysis. While these methods were originally developed to uncover how people think and reason in complex, time pressured, high stakes situations, I have used them over the past several years in industry and business where there is less of a need to study life and death decision-making, but just as great a need to capture excellent on the job performance.
Here are some of the reactions I received after sharing the methods:
- A pre-requisite to using these methods is having trust on the team. Sometimes people want to hold on to information because it makes them feel more secure in their position.
- These methods can be a tool in aiding cross-generational dialogue. By using them with less experienced people on the team, we can uncover how their thinking is different from the more senior people.
- It takes persistence and curiosity to use these methods. Persistence is important because you have to be prepared to ask questions multiple different ways to get the information. People who are curious will dig deeper than others and will uncover more information, even if the person being interviewed doesn’t reveal much information at first.
I have asked for feedback from the two audiences as they begin to use the methods. I am curious about in which types of situations they will apply these tools. As I get that feedback, I will post it on this site.